Skip to Content

The Royal BC Museum publishes two web articles about the history of the Chinese in BC

In 1788, 50 Chinese workers and sailors were hired to work at a British trading post in Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island.

Since that moment, the history of the Chinese in British Columbia has been long and complex, full of tales of economic, cultural and generational successes, but also of dark chapters of discrimination and struggles.

To share Chinese Canadian stories in BC with a broader audience and to support the BC Social Studies curriculum, the Royal BC Museum has published two excellent articles, “Early Chinese Canadian Experiences in British Columbia” and “Acknowledging Past Wrongs”, on the Learning Portal ( – the online educational window into the museum and archives’ collections.

“Through our collections, we can share with the world the history of the Chinese in British Columbia, from migration to settlement, from discrimination to equality,” said Prof Jack Lohman, CEO of the Royal BC Museum. “The Chinese community has had a powerful, positive impact on the culture and economy of the province, and learning about their immensely hard lives and the challenges they had to overcome makes us appreciate their successes all the more.”

Researching and revealing these stories has been made possible thanks to the support of the Ministry of International Trade and Ministry Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, in partnership with the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council.
“These articles are a great additional resource for British Columbians wanting to understand the legacy of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia,” said Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. “They build on the commitment government made in its response to the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report to have a long-lasting online resource to tell the stories of early Chinese Canadians.”

“Early Chinese Canadian Experiences in British Columbia” identifies the gold rush of 1858 as the spark for the first major migration of Chinese people to BC; the article provides an overview of some of the physical, social and legal challenges that they overcame. “Acknowledging Past Wrongs” talks in more detail about the institutional discrimination faced by the Chinese over the years, and how understanding the past can pave the way for reconciliation.

The information in both articles draws from the Royal BC Museum’s considerable collections of artifacts, archival images and other materials, providing learners with opportunities to further explore the museum and archives’ tremendous resources. The articles are excellent opportunities for teachers, librarians, and students of all ages to begin their own research, dialogue, learning and actions.

The Royal BC Museum is addressing the Chinese Historical Wrongs through a number of different Legacy Initiatives, including the creation and distribution of Outreach Kits to schools throughout BC. The outreach kits comprise stackable wooden boxes created in-house at the Royal BC Museum, each holding replica photos, government records and other materials relevant to the stories of the first Chinese Canadians in BC.